Month: December 2013


As a kid I did the whole New Year’s thing. What are my faults [depending on who you talk with they could be many]? How would I correct them? [The puzzle here was what if I liked those faults? I’m thinking, can you ever have too much chocolate, laugh too much, read too much?] What would I like to accomplish in the next year? This last one was always a ‘times a’wastin’ type of resolution. It stressed my mortality, which although I intellectually agree is there, viscerally, well, not a good thing to dwell on. It was a sort of, get it done now! And the ‘or else’ was implied.

Resolutions. Yes, before we go further, a definition. a firm decision to do or not to do something. On the face of it, that sounds pretty good, making a promise. We make promises all the time, some are good ones, some are little white lies. And yet, why would you start out a perfectly good beginning with a promise to do or not to do something. It’s new, it’s unknown, like outer space, you don’t even know what’s out there!  You need more than a promise.

A few years ago my daughter suggested that you use a word to focus the new year. I like that. Brave. Healthy. Industrious. Calm. Sincere. Okay, now I’m going off the path. But the idea of the word is a cool one.

While in business you plan for the future, the unknown, you chart a course. But you know it’s all blue sky stuff, you’re making a guess and you can be so very wrong. For in the interior of a person, your soul, your conscience, I think that’s harder. I’m reading Walter Isaacson’s BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: A LIFE. Franklin, we’re told, defined fourteen virtues and set about a lifetime of correcting his own behavior to keep those virtues. He was mildly successful, getting some down pat and others, well, lets just say, life is a work in progress.

Here I am, at the end of 2013, which in and of itself is sort of remarkable, sort of scifi-ish, depending on your own age. My word for this year was write. By that I really meant finish. Finishing is hard, it means taking something from a beginning, through a middle to and end. Ends are hard.  But I’m good. I’ve been told my writing is strong. I did finish a story, a middle grade mystery and it has a beginning, a middle and an end. It doesn’t shake the world, but it is the exact type of story I loved to read. Now,  I’m working on a non-fiction that wakes me up at night and makes me think. In the new month I will start the search for an agent, and successful or not, it will continue to make me feel to the core, that which Sister Alice Mary said I could never be, a writer.



Top Ten

There is a new posting going through Facebook. You are to write a list of ten books that influenced you. Ten! Seriously? I do not subscribe to the Captain Jean-Luc Picard one event changed my life theory. I think that’s silly and a bit unreal. First of all, it took Jean-Luc until his early middle age to realize the one event changed everything, so how did that shape his life. And secondly, hmm, not sure there is a secondly.

Back to the ten.  For me that would mean I only read ten books. I’ve read thousands. I am a reader. I don’t remember not reading. I’ll read anything–graffiti on walls, cereal boxes, labels–to read is to live.  More than the number of books, I think it is the type of books that shaped me. I am not a coming-of-age reader. My favorite story is that I read LORD OF THE FLIES in eighth grade and that cured me forever of coming of age. In truth, it made me think that as kids we are really barbarians, and civilization is a veneer. Personally, I like that something makes us nicer, less barbarous and violent toward each other, even if it is only a thin, almost not-real coating.  After LOTF all other COA books looked rather tame and ordinary. And, really? It’s not like we don’t know the plot. An unhappy ending might be more interesting.

Back to the not-only-ten books and the type of books. I read mysteries because I LOVE to find out. As a kid I made maps of the neighborhood, charted the chores I had to do, listed all the things I needed to get done. In mysteries all of that detail work was what paid off. Oh yeah, there was some leap-of-faith stuff thrown in. No matter how you looked at it though it really only came together because the detecting brought out all the clues, relevant and not so relevant.

I read biography. If there are any books that are cool, it’s biography. Real biographies, not these written while the person is still around and doing. The ones where we’ve got some perspective on the person, we’ve read their diaries, their mail, their speeches, their actions, their relationships, their commitments. Biography more than anything made me look into myself, not to impress myself, or to be impressed, but to see what was wanting in me that made a person biography-worthy.

I read science fiction and fantasy. Well, first of all it’s cool to be on another planet, in another universe. Beyond that, sic-fi/fantasy taps into what we can become, how we are evolving. In some ways, it is a basic need to know that we will go on. The terror lies in the fact that we might not.

So, ten books? Bah! Every book I ever read influenced me, supported me, built me up, made me think, even the not so good ones.

Picking and Choosing

I like to pick and choose. My mom would have called it ‘being discriminating’. As in, perceptive, insightful, astute. Choosing to have only one drink at a party. Choosing to get eight hours sleep per night. Choosing to put the girls in private schools. Charting a difference in the options that are available and making choices, hopefully, good ones.

You can pick and choose your ideology as in a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy. And we do, pick and choose. We seek cogent arguments to back up our choices. We can be social and fiscal conservatives. Social conservatives and fiscal liberals or mix and match anyway we choose. Ideology allows us to build a system that works for us. I can like all or part of an ideology, I can blend ideologies and make that work for me.

It is difficult when we are ideological as in adhering to a system. It is also difficult when we use that term ideological as a pejorative when talking about those of a certain political party, usually the opposite political party, whichever that is. I see a problem today in the place where ideology and faith cross paths. There may be some ideology in faith, but there is no faith in ideology. Faith is a strong belief in God, or in the doctrines of religion based on spiritual understanding rather than proof. In faith, Catholic faith, there is no option to pick and choose.

I believe. I don’t know. I have faith.

Right now, Pope Francis is getting a lot of press for his statements, both verbal and visual. As a cradle Catholic, I would say, Francis has mastered the Marshall McLuhan ‘medium is the message’ ideal, lol, how like a Jesuit! Staying out of the Papal Apartments–brilliant. Talking about the inclusive Church–also brilliant. His most recent statement about the ‘tyranny of unfettered capitalism’ has the progressives cheering and the conservatives aghast. Why? Because they are trying to fit a faith based statement about the dignity of man into their ideology. Francis, no less than his predecessors, all of them, believes; he is speaking from faith. What both sides forget is that he believes that abortion is a sin, and so is same sex marriage, no matter how much his faith is inclusive. The Pope represents a total belief system, no options to pick and choose, a faith that has outlasted most ideologies. I believe. A lot. Totally. I have faith.